I’m still upset that I had to grow up without the Internet

I can’t begin to imagine what my life would be like without the Internet. I know, it wasn’t even that long ago that there wasn’t any Internet at all. Like when I was a little kid I can remember there not being an Internet. Every once in a while someone will put some post on Facebook talking about how much better kids had it when they could run around outside and drink out of a garden hose and play with their imaginations. I don’t know. I loved my childhood, but I remember being insanely bored about ninety percent of the time.

Like when I came home from school everyday. I would turn on the TV and hope that something interesting or entertaining would be on. Usually there was nothing, just reruns of Bugs Bunny cartoons or the same five episodes of Power Rangers playing on repeat. Then I would go bug my mom, who was usually busy cooking for me and my five brothers and sisters. By this point in the afternoon I would be really, really bored, so I’d start annoying her, asking her if I could have some Fruit Roll-Ups or some Gushers.

“No you can’t have any fruit snacks!” my mom would tell me. She must have been so tired of having this same conversation over and over and over again. “Please?” I’d ask. “No! Can’t you see that I’m cooking dinner?” It was obvious that she was cooking dinner. But this argument was the most interesting thing going on for me all day. “But I’m hungry!” I’d protest. “Have an apple,” she’d say. Of course I didn’t want an apple. It was even worse if she suggested carrot sticks. What am I a squirrel?

If I played my cards right, this back and forth would have used up a solid twenty to thirty minutes of the afternoon. Then I could go back to the TV room and watch two episodes of Saved by the Bell. This show was aired on regular TV, without pause, throughout my entire childhood. Seriously, I’ve seen every single episode of Saved by the Bell, at least twenty-five times. One time I was messing around on the Internet and I started reading this essay that this guy wrote about Saved by the Bell. He started listing specific episodes. And I knew exactly what he was talking about. Anybody else remember what the A.C. in A.C. Slater stood for? One time a girl asked him and he responded, “Absolutely Charming.” Clever. But it really stood for Albert Clifford. I remember this because there was one episode where his mom visited Bayside and started calling him Albert Clifford. At the time, I thought it was this huge deal. I couldn’t believe the mystery was over. But nobody ever mentioned it in any subsequent episodes, and so I think a lot of the shock value dissipated over time. It was kind of like when we all found out that Kramer’s first name was Cosmo. Big deal, right?

Bonus question: What was Principal Belding’s stage name when he was a DJ at the KKTY Bayside radio station as a teenager? Answer: Big Bopper Belding. I swear to all of you on my mother’s life that I didn’t have to look up either of those two factoids on the Internet. I’m carrying around basically the entire series of Saved by the Bell right here in my higher consciousness. This is all your fault, mom and dad, for not getting us cable when we were little kids.

Then right towards the end of the second Saved by the Bell episode, my mom would call us in for dinner. And I’d protest. “I’m not done with my show!” I’d scream and cry. “But you’ve seen that show five times already! And I thought you said you were hungry before!” I’m just kidding. My mom would never try to argue sense with us. Because growing up, we were all completely senseless, a group of wild animals, sapping my parents of their strength, draining the energy they needed to constantly spend just to keeping us all from killing each other.

And this was all way before any Internet, any first family PC, any free ninety-day AOL trial CDs. What the hell would I be doing now if I didn’t have any Internet? I definitely wouldn’t be writing. What would be the point of writing if I didn’t have an Internet to show it off on Facebook to all of my Facebook friends? I don’t get how all of those real writers back in the classical age of writing did it. They would write something and then, what, go over their friend’s house and make him or her read it? No, they would have to write a whole book and send it to a publishing house and wait months or years for a response. Maybe that’s why none of the classics are funny. The whole point of writing jokes is trying to make people laugh. The whole point of trying to make people laugh is so you can watch them laugh immediately, and then you can feel validated, that what you’ve written is funny, and then you’re free to laugh at your own jokes as loud and for as long as you want. Hey, I didn’t say it was funny, you did, and what, I’m not allowed to laugh also? Sitting around and laughing alone all by yourself is probably what crazy people did back in the day. I’m getting an image of a padded room and a lunatic sitting in a straightjacket just laughing hysterically behind locked doors. But put a computer screen in front of that maniac and you have basically everyone in the world. The Internet is the best. I really love it.

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